By Gordon Lambie
The cluster of COVID-19 infections that has developed in the Des Sources MRC has the highest concentration of infections in relation to the local population of any other area in the province, according to Dr. Alain Poirier, director of Public Health for the Estrie administrative region. Speaking with local media on Tuesday morning, Poirier said that although the total number of active cases in the region is lower than some of the other areas in the Townships, the rate of infection per 100,000 people has reached 323.5.
The region, which includes the communities of Danville, Val des Sources (formerly Asbestos), Wotton, St.-Georges-de-Windsor, St-Adrien, St-Camille, and St-Joseph-de-Ham-Sud, has consistently been the part of the Townships with the lowest vaccination rates across all age groups. It has seen a significant increase in cases over the last two weeks, with 74 people having been infected since September 19.
“We have seen increases four to six times stronger in this area than across the entire Estrie region,” Poirier said, adding that the cases have mainly been in elementary school aged children, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, and their parents. “We have had 49 cases in schools, although it is important to understand that this includes parents and that, in many cases, we are not talking about an outbreak or spread within the school, but children in the school getting it from their parents.”
The public health director said that there are currently five outbreaks being monitored in schools in the region with several classrooms closed.
The vaccination rates in Des Sources are at 77.7 per cent for a first dose (60.1 per cent among 30–39-year-olds) and 74.4 per cent for a second (54.1 per cent among 18–29-year-olds) compared to the regional totals of 85.8 per cent and 82.7 per cent for those save levels of coverage.
On a more general note, Poirier also underlined the importance of regular Covid testing.
“All across Quebec people are getting tested less when they have symptoms of Covid,” he said, speculating that it comes from a combination of people feeling immune due to vaccination and exhaustion with the sanitary measures. “More and more people are not as diligent as they used to be, but we still need to go and there is room in the testing centres.”
The Eastern Townships reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as a part of 114 since the last update on Friday. As a result there were 256 active cases across the region.
There were three new deaths in the community, and ten people were hospitalized in the region, one of whom was in intensive care.
According to Poirier, 27 outbreaks were being monitored across the region.
The Province of Quebec reported 436 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 412,800 with 5,023 active cases.
There were eight new deaths, for a total of 11,397, and 291 hospitalizations, 90 of whom were in intensive care.